Moving abroad is a massive project, and comes with a fresh set of challenges that you’ll have never faced before.
To name a few; language barriers, social life, friendships, relationships, money, general uncertainty, an excruciatingly slow bureaucratic system -*cough*SpainandjustaboutallotherSpanishspeakingcountries*cough*.
But although these don’t sound too appealing, the great thing is that they are temporary. Because they’re temporary, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
When you make it to the end, guess what happens? That’s a great guess! You become a stronger, better version of yourself. Overcoming setbacks makes you better, simple as that.
So How Exactly Have I Improved?
Confidence – Completing new challenges, achievements and doing cool stuff in your own country increases your confidence. Completing them in another country increases your confidence by a greater magnitude.
Whether it’s exploring a new area you’ve never been to before with no idea how to communicate with locals, dating that hot Spanish chick, learning the language, learning a new sport or martial art, these all give you a strong sense of accomplishment.
You also learn to become more outcome independent, which I feel is a very important quality that very few people seem to have. Outcome independence means that you are less affected by things “going wrong”, which makes it harder for you to become unhappy.
Some people are affected by the little things “going wrong” in their lives, and are upset at the tiniest of things. However, when you’re abroad, things just seem to “go wrong” all the time.
I think it’s mainly due to the cultural differences and the differences in perceptions of what is normal versus what is wrong. Whether it’s the bus timetable being inaccurate, the waiters taking forever, long, time-consuming bureaucratic systems etc. you learn to be largely unaffected by these minor irritations.
This will make your life easier and more pleasant when (if) you return home in the future.
Social Skills – When you move to another country, you’re essentially thrown in at the deep end. I love it. You’re forced to meet new people and make new friends. It’s something I’m already good at, but doing it from scratch in another country where you know nobody is another thing.
The great thing about this is that it forces you to get good at meeting new people, getting on the same wavelength as them, and basically improving your relationships with other people more easily. It’s a crucial skill that is learned.
It’s one that applies to all other relationships, whether it’s your friends back at home, family, colleagues/co-workers, girlfriend/boyfriend – it will improve all of them.
You will have a far greater understanding of how the world works, how people think and where you fit in with the world in general.
The world is becoming more and more globalised, so it’s becoming more important that you have a strong cultural understanding of other countries. What better way to achieve this than living in them?
Furthermore, I would argue that in order to fully realise this cultural awareness, you need to be able to communicate fluently with the locals, which normally involves learning the languages (unless they have exceptional English).
Living and working abroad will make you a better person. I think the most important areas are confidence, outcome independence and social skills.
The one that most people seem to lack is the outcome independence, and if you manage to get good at this it will carry over into everything you do in the future. Minor setbacks will no longer affect you negatively and this makes you a happier person.
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